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"I can see why they call this place the Confines," commented Sox fan Doc from his seat in Aisle 237 Sunday at Wrigley Field. "But I wouldn't call it friendly."
Doc was sitting next to Ted, a lifelong Cubs fan, and as often happens at the ballpark, the two hit it off about as well as one could expect considering their rooting interests.
"I'm friendly," countered Ted. "What are you talking about?"
"Claustrophobia, that's what," said Doc. "It took me 15 minutes just to get through the gates to get in here. And the aisles and tunnels made the trip to these seats seem like one of those climbing walls at REI. And what's that netting above me?"
"Oh, don't worry about that," responded Ted. "There was a bit of a concrete problem a few years ago, but the netting took care of that."
"Am I supposed to feel safe?" asked Doc. "I will say that sitting behind a post is nostalgic for me. I was right behind one in the '83 playoffs at old Comiskey against Baltimore. It saved me from seeing Tito Landrum's homer."
"Up to that point, that was a good season for Sox fans," acknowledged Ted. "Now you guys are satisfied with mediocrity. I don't get it."
"You'll need to explain," said Doc.
"Well, you win a game here yesterday, 1-0, helped by a terrible call at second base that killed a rally for the Cubs, and you're all excited about a .500 ballclub," said Ted. "Maybe people in Pittsburgh are excited about .500 because they haven't been there since Bush I. But .500 doesn't win anything. It's as average as you can get. It's Vinny Del Negro and the Bulls."
"That's the trouble with you Cub fans," groaned Doc, "you fail to see the whole picture. Remember May 6? Your team was only three games under .500, while the Sox were 11-22. My team has played .600 ball since then. And yours? I'll be kind and spare you the details."
"Yes, but we have promising young players like Castro and Barney who will be here for a long time," Ted pointed out. "Castro even made the All-Star team."
"And I suppose guys like Fukudome, Soriano, A-Ram, Byrd, and Pena are part of the rebuilding program, too," laughed Doc. "At least Paulie and A.J. are helping the Sox win. Leaving Konerko off the All-Star team is like leaving New York strip off the menu at Morton's."
"Okay, so the Sox are doing better now than earlier in the season," admitted Ted. "But .500 is as high as they'll go. Look at what Rodrigo Lopez is doing to them today. He's bounced around since the Orioles let him go five years ago. And Garza handcuffed them yesterday. Dunn's hitting a buck-70, and Ozzie has him batting third today. You tell me how they can keep winning."
"Easy," ventured Doc. "Pitching. All the starters go deep into games. Danks had won three straight when he got hurt, and he'll be back soon. Santos, Thornton, Sale, Crain, and Bruney have been as good as any bullpen the past month or so. Those guys were pretty terrible when the team was losing. And the offense has shown signs of life. If they start hitting like Ozzie says they can, look out Central Division!"
Ted was about to respond when both guys had to stand up to let yet another fan get out of the row.
"What's up with these Cub fans?" asked Doc. "At The Cell people stay put. They sit down and watch the game. Where are these people going all the time? I've seen marathon runners with lighter workouts."
"I dunno," said Ted. "I guess they're going to buy beer or get some food."
Just then a fan slipped back into the row with an order of nachos with what seemed like an entire jar of jalapenos heaped on top.
"You mean they actually walk up and down stairs, wait in line, and pay money for that nastiness?" grimaced Doc. "At least there's more room at U.S. Cellular to let people get past. Those nachos got a little too close for my comfort."
At that juncture, Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin - blinded by the sun - somehow gloved a flyball off the bat of pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt.
"They must stock Visine in the clubhouse," offered Doc. "Is it true that Andre Dawson personally paid for lights at Wrigley to escape the afternoon sun?"
"Very funny," countered Ted as the Cubs edged closer to a 3-1 victory. "Fukudome's learned how to play right field here. I give Quentin high marks for hanging in there today. It's brutal."
"So is this game," muttered Doc as his team mustered only four hits. "I thought this was the day the Sox go above .500."
"How can they?" asked Ted. "They're mediocre."
As Pierzynski struck out to end the game, the crowd broke into "Go Cubs Go."
"You'd think the Cubs just won the World Series," mocked Doc. "I wasn't even sure most of these people even knew the score."
"Cub fans live in the present," explained Ted. "Doesn't matter what's come before, or what they're going to do tomorrow. We're winners today and that's all that matters."
"While we wait until September," commented Doc. "Then we'll see how mediocre the Sox are."
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